Mary Ellen Klas’ ridiculous suggestion

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There are lies, damn lies and statistics.  And then there’s whatever Miami Herald reporter Mary Ellen Klas is relying on when she writes that “Republicans are prepared to sacrifice numbers in the redistricting battle.”

Klas, without hesitation, predicts that:

“The greatest Republican losses would occur in the state House, where each of the five maps proposed by the House Redistricting Committee appear to sacrifice between seven to 11 Republican seats, according to an analysis of voting performance by the Herald/Times. Clearwater Republican Rep. Ed Hooper, St. Petersburg Rep. Jeff Brandes, Tampa Reps. James Grant and Shawn Harrison and Gainesville Rep. Keith Perry, for example, would find themselves in districts that favored Democrats Barack Obama in 2008 and Alex Sink for governor in 2010.”

Would not could?

Suggesting that Brandes, Grant, Harrison or Hooper are in danger of ‘being sacrificed’ because their new legislative districts voted for Obama/Sink shows not only the danger of looking at the redistricting process from a purely mathematical perspective, but also a complete lack of campaign and political knowledge and the on-the-ground reality.

For the sake of argument, look at Brandes’ seat (disclaimer: Jeff Brandes is a client of Extensive Enterprises LLC, the holding company of Extensive Enterprises Online, which owns SaintPetersBlog.com; Rep. Grant and Rep. Hooper have previously advertised on SaintPetersBlog.com.)

Using HB9017 as a base, the way Brandes’ seat will be drawn, it did give Alex Sink 52.17% of the vote.  But Brandes’ current seat also went for Sink, BY A LARGER MARGIN, with 52.32% of the vote.

Yes, 54% of his new seat went for Obama in 2008, but so did 53.9% of his current seat.

Despite these top-of-the-ballot results, Rep. Brandes still won handily over a Democratic incumbent.

There are more significant changes in Rep. Grant’s proposed district, but are they enough to suggest he’s about to be ‘sacrificed’?

A whopping 2.3% more of his new district went for Sink in 2010 than his current one, but his new district actually went even more overwhelmingly for Jeff Atwater (current 62.2%, new 65.8%), Pam Bondi (current 61.4%, new 63.2%) and Adam Putnam (current 63.2%, new 65.5%) than his current seat.

Perhaps Klas should not use top-of-the-ballot turnout as a predictor of performance in legislative districts.

Put aside the statistics and look at the on-the-ground reality:

Shawn Harrison and Ed Hooper don’t even have Democratic opponents, so who exactly are they to be sacrificed for?

Jeff Brandes and James Grant, combined have raised $134,985 for their campaign accounts, while the two Democrats running against them have raised a total of $5,820 – that’s a 23 to 1 ratio.

And then there’s just the knowledge gleamed from, you know, having actually worked in all four of these districts.  Brandes’ seat is the most volatile and it could have been interesting had a moderate Democrat jumped into the race months ago and raised a ton of money.  Instead, Brandes’ was recognized by PolitiFact as the most “independent” Republican in the Florida House and is no real danger of being upset, even in a wave election, which is not what the 2012 cycle is shaping up as.

As for Grant and Harrison’s seat, let me know when a credible Democrat decides to run in those districts. I’m not sure such a candidate even exists in that part of the state.

To suggest that Reps. Brandes, Grant, Harrison or Hooper are to be ‘sacrificed’ is not only likely wrong, it’s dangerous – although I have no doubt the Republican strategists behind these campaigns are happy to use Klas’ story of the sky falling on Chicken Little as motivation.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.